Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Isaac 'Ike' Hewitt - Co. 5 Air Gunners

Obituary: Hewitt, 99, kept diary close to the heart (By Daniel Pearce - Simcoe Reformer November 10, 2015) As the end neared for Ike Hewitt — who was shot down over Europe in the Second World War and survived three-and-a-half years as a POW — a horrifying image re-emerged that he couldn't shake. It was the sight of the rear gunner of his bomber trapped in flames as the plane went down. “He couldn't get to him to save him. He couldn't get it out of his mind,” said Bob Castles, a lifelong friend of Hewitt's who regularly visited him in the Delhi retirement home where he lived at the end of his life. Unlike the gunner, Hewitt did survive. He bailed out but cut away his parachute too soon as he floated to the Atlantic Ocean below, crash landing into the freezing water. Unconscious, he was pulled to safety by Germans and spent the rest of the war behind barbed wire. After the war, Hewitt, who died Sept. 15 age 99, returned to the Norfolk County area. He lived a quiet life, raising a family and working as a buyer for Imperial Tobacco. It wasn't until he was in his 90s that he came to prominence following the release of his wartime diary: an amazing compendium of photos, drawings, and paintings that captured life in a German POW camp. Hewitt had used cigarettes he got in Red Cross packages to get other prisoners to give him their artwork and photographs. The diary became so valued he kept it with him, hiding it from the Germans as he was moved from camp to camp. One time, he risked his life by stuffing it under his shirt during a forced march from Poland to Berlin, a winter ordeal many of the prisoners didn't survive. The prisoners were told to discard everything they were carrying in order to make the trip go easier or face execution. In 2012, local residents realized the value of the diary and turned it into a book and a DVD video. Hewitt was feted at an official opening at the Simcoe Legion for the book and was the special guest at the Warriors Day parade at the Norfolk County Fair in 2011. In an interview in 2012, Hewitt said he hadn't purposely kept the diary a secret all those years. “I wanted to show people what we went through when I came home, and then nobody was interested,” he told the Simcoe Reformer. Hewitt's images from the camps painted a positive picture of life as a POW. There were photos of hockey games on a frozen pond, theatrical productions with sets and costumes (men played the women's roles) as well as humorous paintings and drawings. But life in the camps was also “inhumane,” local resident Harry B. Barrett, himself a Second World veteran and the author of the book on Hewitt's diary, said in 2013 interview. In his post-war years, Hewitt never talked about his war experiences either good or bad, said his daughter Pat Tarcza of Midhurst, Ont. “He kept it to himself,” she said. It wasn't until 17 years ago after his wife Kay died that “he changed and talked about things,” said Tarcza. After that, local residents decided to do something with Hewitt's vivid and historic record – and the man got the recognition he deserved. December 18, 1941 Op Brest Manchester R5795 shot down (60345) P/O Neville George Stokes Aussie with RAFVR (P) missing (AUS400298) Sgt Gwynne Pryce Thomas (P/FE) PoW (AUS402283) Sgt Thomas Michael Wade (N) PoW (R/64413) F/S Isaac 'Ike' Hewitt R/64413 RCAF (BA) PoW +(989237) Sgt. John Robert Conn RAFVR (WOP/AG) missing +(R/76013) Sgt. Morton Ralph Heinish RCAF (MUG) missing +(641560) Sgt. George Gardiner Fell 641560 RAF (Rear AG) missing

Monday, October 15, 2012

April 1941 - "Anzacs" at Fingal Tune Up A Fairey Battle - While a groundman pours in the high octane gasoline, the Canadian-NewZealand foursome pose beside A Fairey Battle at Fingal. Top: John Jasper of Auckland, N.Z., Below L to R: Alan Baird of Foxton, N.Z., P. Patrick of Alberta and L.C. Nelson of London, Ontario. John Whiteside Jasper was killed in action April 23, 1942.
Jim Robinson of Wanganul, N.Z. pulled the trigger and riddled a drogue target being pulled by a Fairey Battle.

December 20, 1941

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Flier at Fingal Threw Drogue, Went Right Out of Plane With It

November 4, 1943: Life as a drogue pilot at the Fingal Bombing and Gunnery School may seem drab and monotonous to the casual observer, but the boys who pull, the targets have a different slant about it, according to FO. C. A. Magee, whose story titled - "Drogue Driver," appears in this month's edition of Wings the R.C.A.F . magazine. F.O. Magee writes : "One morning a red-head who hails from Texas and answers to the name of Wheat took off as usual to tow the over grown wind sock around the sky. On reaching his position over the 'drome he told his operator to stream the drogue. The operator opened the hatch, threw -out the drogue-and went right out with it, minus his parachute . Luckily he had fastened a small cable known as the G-string to his chute harness. Nevertheless he was hanging head down under the fuselage trying to contact the operator by "inter-com," Pilot Wheat received no reply. Looking into the operator's compartment he found no operator. When he failed to see a parachute drifting earthward he decided to land and report the strange disappearance of one, drogue operator. "Taxiing to a stop the pilot found the operator bruised and lacerated, in his compartment . The only reason he was still alive was that, after the plane had decreased speed to land he had been able to grasp the hatch door and pull himself back in the plane.”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cpl. J.C. Murray June 1942 in front of Lysander